“Cure” These Veggies
By Paul James
From asparagus to zucchini, we eat most veggies fresh from the garden. But there are three veggies — garlic, onions, and potatoes — that will last for weeks, even months, if you cure them first. And now’s the time to do just that. The curing technique is different for all three, but in every case it’s pretty darn simple. Here’s what you need to know.
If you planted garlic in early November (which is the best time to do so), harvest time is just around the corner. And if you planted a hardneck rather than a softneck variety, you’re likely seeing scapes beginning to form now. Scapes are elongated stems to which a cluster of flowers is attached, and it’s best to remove them to force energy back into bulb formation. (Don’t toss the scapes! They’re great for making pesto or quickly grilled.)
Within two or three weeks, when five or so lower leaves begin to brown, it’s time to harvest. Don’t try to pull the bulb out of the ground, because chances are you’ll snap the main stalk. Instead, use a shovel or garden fork to loosen the soil beneath the bulbs, then pull gently on the stalk.
Place the bulbs, stalks and all, in a shady spot that gets good air circulation and let them cure for about 10 days. Then cut the bulbs from the stalks and store them indoors out of direct sunlight in a cool spot. Hardneck garlic will keep for 3 to 5 months whereas softneck varieties will keep up to 9 months.
Although they’re in the same family as garlic, onions are best cured in the ground. When the tops (leaves) begin to brown, bend them over just above the top of the onion so you basically stop the growth process. Stop watering, and within a week to 10 days, the leaves will turn completely brown, at which point you can harvest. Stored in a cool, dry place, onions will last several weeks, even months.
Actually, you can (and should!) eat potatoes fresh, but if you cure them they’ll last a few weeks in storage. Fresh or “new” potatoes can be harvested shortly after the plants produce flowers, or once the foliage begins to brown slightly since not all potatoes produce flowers. But to cure potatoes, let the foliage turn completely brown before you start digging. And, as you might guess, they too should be stored in a cool, dry place.
Hmmmm. Potatoes, onions, and garlic. Time to grab a cast-iron skillet and get to frying!
Happy gardening, ya’ll.
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